Cariera de Piatra (old limestone quarry) is an excellent crag for beginners. It has 6 routes, all from 15 to 18 m high, difficulties 5a, 5a+, 5b and 5b+. The protection is solid and PLENTY! Perfect place for beginner top ropers and beginner leads. Crag overlooks the city of Busteni – wonderful views.
Although Cariera de Piatra is only 1.5 hour drive from Bucharest, it is usually empty. Quite an awesome thing for beginner-crag that normally would be packed. May be it is due to the location, that is both accessible and hidden at the same time.
This crag has south exposure, so in summer it is quite hot. Best time to climb is spring and autumn. Or you can just take a break during hot summer hours. The crag is hammock friendly, so you can chill, nap or snack :).
Crag location: Between towns of Sinaia and Busteni in Prahova valley. Detailed directions in Getting there tab. GPS: 45.375378 N 25.529023 E
Routes: 8 short sport climbing routes. 15m-18m long each. 1 – 5a, 3 – 5a+, 1 – 5b, 1 – 5b+. Limestone. Mainly easy slab climbing on an inclined face.
Routes are equipped with new, solid expansion and glued bolts.
Best conditions: Dry. Wait for 1-2 consecutive dry days and then go. Can get hot during summer days.
Helmets, harnesses, climbing shoes, chalk bags, abseil device of your choice, one (better two) 60m ropes, 10-12 quick draws, a sling per lead climber to tying into protection at the end of the route while setting up top ropes.
Sources of water: no sources of water, bring water with you.
From Bucharest: drive on A3 road till Ploiesti, then on DN1 road till Sinaia, then go up the town roads till you reach the margine of Bucegi national park. Map.
From Brasov: drive on E60 road passing towns of Timisu de Jos, Timisu de Sus, Predeal, Azuga, Busteni, then you’ll arrive to Sinaia, then go up the town roads till you reach the margine of Bucegi national park. Map.
In both cases at some point you will have 2 road variants when you enter Sinaia. If you are coming from Bucharest, you will have a road going straight and a bit downwards and a road going left-ish and a bit upwards. Take the upwards and left-ish one. If you are coming from Brasov, take the right-ish one so you have forest on your right and houses on the left.
Once you reach Sinaia, number your round-abouts. Go straight on first one, and then turn left and up on the second round about (if you come from direction of Bucharest) or right (if coming from Brasov). You should be going up following winding town street, passing by: Sinaia monastery, Furnica hotel complex, then you’ll have another round about, go straight ahead (not left, and not downish-right, but straight and up. Then after some more winding the residential area will be over, and you will arrive at the first left turn, where there will be a stone paved road deviating from main asphalt street, a stone wall with some large posters on it, including one with “Attention – bears!”. This is the limit of Bucegi national park. Street view. GPS coords: 45.362154, 25.528638. This is where you can park your car and start walking to the crag.
Accommodation: no overnight stay necessary.
Where to eat: restaurant of Bucegi hotel, Cabana Schiori, restaurant of Anda hotel.
Finding the crag
As mentioned above, this crag is a bit of a “hidden gem”. The access is very easy, but one has to know where to look.
After you park the car, start walking on a stone paved road. Pass the bridge over Peleș river and follow the road turning right. Almost immediately there will be another paved road deviating to the left and up. It has a sign “Poteca Regala” and touristic trail mark of a blue vertical stripe between two white ones. Ignore it and walk on. After another 5 minutes (aprox.) you will reach a small opening with another road deviating to the left. If has a barrier at the beginning, that is usually open. The road is paved with white gravel. Start walking on it.
In about 2.5-3 km of walking on white-gravel road, you will reach a U-turn. The road will be going sharp left and up – this is where you should be going. Continue walking this trail. Soon you’ll have a large wall of abandoned lime stone quarry on your right, walk past it. At some point there will be a foundation of an abandoned building ruin on your left. Walk past.
Once you stop seeing the tall quarry walls on your right ( in 10-15 minutes walking from the U-turn), you should start scanning the hill on your right for a ground path leading up the hill covered with trees. When you find the path, start walking up.
The path is very steep in the beginning. You’ll go on all-4 or hold on to the trees. Then it gets a bit better. In 5-7 minutes walking up you will be at the carg.
It’s best to start climbing, taking routes one by one from right to left. First of all, rightmost routes are the most exposed to sun. Ones on the left start in the shade of some trees, so at least the belayer can be cool.
Also the routes on the right are the easiest. They start from a small rocky platform.
The climbing is easy enough. Rock is stable, and pro is plentiful. We actually found out that the lead would need as many as 10-12 quick draws on some routes. That how often the bolts are placed! So even a novice lead will feel good and safe up the routes.
Most of the routes are slabby faces. Variation: bulges, cracks, crimpy walls. Routes in the middle are a bit more crimpy than ones on the right. Fourth route counted from the right (has same entrance as route 3) has a traverse to the left. That may make it a bit more difficult for the novice lead.
The most interesting route is the leftmost route called Dexter – the only 5+. You will see “Dexter” in red paint on its base. The most interesting part are the last 2-3 meters below the top of the route. It’s an almost vertical face with small hand holds. Footholds are tiny and you will need to smear. There’s also an easier way to reach the top – more to the left. But then you’ll miss the fun. For the fun to be had, try and follow the direct vertical line from last bolt to the two top bolts connected by the cordelette.
Routes have screw gate carabiners on top, so it is easy to set up top ropes. There’s no need for any extra gear.
Left part of the crag is basically in the forest, so you will have a nice place to rest between climbs, hand a hammock and chill.